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Everybody Cut Loose! Ghostlight Revisits and Remasters 1998 “Footloose”

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Well, everybody didn’t quite cut loose this weekend.  Despite Paramount Pictures’ lavish promotional campaign for the film, its remake of 1984’s Footloose couldn’t topple Hugh Jackman’s Rocky-meets-TheTransformers epic Real Steel for the top spot at the box office.  Still, the lukewarm reception accorded Craig Brewer’s picture likely won’t diminish the reputation or popularity of Herbert Ross’ original.  A more successful adaptation of Footloose arrived at Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre on October 22, 1998, where it remained ensconced for 709 performances until its July 2, 2000 closing.  The production was recorded by Q Records, a short-lived music division of the QVC television network, and remained available until 2003 when Q dissolved.  Over the past years, the album has become collectible, and as of this writing, is selling for $46.52 and up for a new copy at, and $14.75 and up for a used one.  Many high school and community theatre actors have been holding out for a hero each year to step up and make this recording available again.  Luckily, they don’t need to hold out any further.  Ghostlight Records is making the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Footloose available once again, albeit with some dramatic changes.

When Footloose arrived on Broadway, The New York Times’ Ben Brantley (still the paper’s chief theatre critic today) described it as a “flavorless marshmallow of a musical,” slightly tempering his words for Walter Bobbie’s production by adding that “there have certainly been worse musicals on Broadway than Footloose.”

The $6.5 million adaptation was bankrolled by the esteemed Dodger Theatricals, who would later strike gold with the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, or Jersey Boys.  Jeremy Kushnier took over from Kevin Bacon as Ren McCormack, who moves from the big city to a small town where a ban on dancing has been instigated by the local preacher (Stephen Lee Anderson, in John Lithgow’s role).  The Reverend Shaw Moore, however, has had better luck bringing control to the town at large than to his own home.  When Moore’s daughter Ariel, portrayed on Broadway by Jennifer Laura Thompson, takes an interest in Ren, the stakes escalate.  Both film and stage musical reveal the story of a wayward father coping with the loss of his son and a wayward youth coping with the absence of his own father.

The chart-topping original soundtrack to Footloose has sold over 15 million copies to date, and in adapting his screenplay for the Broadway stage, Dean Pitchford wisely retained the film’s core songs: the title tune, written by Pitchford and Kenny Loggins; “Holding Out For A Hero,” by Pitchford and Jim Steinman (Bat Out of Hell); “Let’s Hear It For The Boy,” by Pitchford and Tom Snow; “Almost Paradise” by Pitchford and Eric Carmen, and more.  Realizing the dramatic necessities of an expanded script, however, Pitchford reunited with Snow to provide new songs which would hopefully both illuminate character and advance the plot.  Brantley opined that “the many new songs Mr. Snow has composed range from the vaguely pleasant (a Sondheimesque duet about ‘learning to be silent’ sung by Ms. [Dee] Hoty [as the Reverend’s wife Vi] and Catherine Cox as Ren’s mother) to the unbearable (a long soul-searching soliloquy performed by the mild-mannered Mr. Anderson).”

Despite the critical reservations, the production garnered four Tony Award nominations including Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical, and the Original Broadway Cast Recording received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Musical Show Album.  Several U.S. national tours followed Broadway, and Footloose even made its way to London’s West End.  It’s been most successful, though, as a licensed show for high schools and community theatres.  Rodgers and Hammerstein Theatricals has confirmed that the musical is consistently in its Top 10 out of more than 100 offerings, while Dramatics Magazine has listed Footloose in its top 5 list of the most-produced high school musicals in America.  The youth appeal of the story and its jukebox of familiar pop hits has rarely been in question.

What’s new on Ghostlight’s release?  Don’t stand still!  Just hit the jump!

Yet the production of Footloose seen around the world was far from identical to the Broadway original.  Ghostlight’s reissue of the Original Broadway Cast Recording has been updated to reflect these changes made by the authors.   The reissued Footloose boasts new album artwork by graphic artist Frank “Fraver” Verlizzo (the current Follies, the original Sweeney Todd), and one completely new song.  “Still Rockin’” was cut from the musical during its pre-Broadway run at Washington, DC’s Kennedy Center, but has since been reinstated to the score.  Ghostlight recorded it this year with original cast member Hunter Foster under the supervision of the original musical director on Broadway, Doug Katsaros, and backed by members of the original orchestra.  Further reflecting the changes made by Pitchford and his team to the musical, three songs have been dropped from the album: “Let’s Make Believe We’re In Love,” sung by the ancillary character of Irene (Robin Baxter) and her “Country Kickers”; the on-the-nose production number “Dancing Is Not A Crime,” performed by Kushnier and the ensemble; and “I Confess,” the soliloquy for Reverend Moore than Brantley found so turgid.  Though these three songs would have been welcome bonus tracks in an appendix of cut material, the result is a tighter, leaner Footloose.

The 2011 edition of Footloose: The Original Broadway Cast Recording is available now in digital form, and will be released on compact disc on Monday, October 24 from Ghostlight Records!  You can pre-order the CD at the link below.

Various Artists, Footloose: The Original Broadway Cast Recording (Q Records Q 10032, 1998 – reissued Ghostlight, 2011)

  1. Footloose/On Any Sunday
  2. The Girl Gets Around
  3. I Can’t Stand Still
  4. Somebody’s Eyes
  5. Learning to Be Silent
  6. Holding Out For a Hero
  7. Heaven Help Me
  8. I’m Free/Heaven Help Me
  9. Still Rockin’ *
  10. Let’s Hear It For The Boy
  11. Can You Find It In Your Heart?
  12. Mama Says (You Can’t Back Down)
  13. Almost Paradise
  14. Can You Find It In Your Heart? (Reprise)
  15. Footloose (Finale)

* denotes newly-recorded track

Written by Joe Marchese

October 17, 2011 at 09:50

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